gluten free

11 Year-End Superlatives for 2016

Quite a few months ago, I read this post by Laura over at A Beautiful Plate and thought it was such a cute idea! I’ve created my own spin on it by doing 11 superlatives for 2016. It was an amazing year!

1. Biggest Milestone: Changing jobs! Back in July, I started a new job with Make-A-Wish. It is the best thing ever, and I pinch myself every day! I still can’t believe that I get paid to plan wishes!

Make-A-Wish Eastern North Carolina Disney World Wish | Trés Belle

2. Hardest Challenge: I am extremely grateful that 2016 was a year of few challenges for me. I am still dealing with some residual health issues from a terrible infection I had back in 2014/2015. Aside from that, I have few complaints!

3. Most Memorable Trip: Wes and I went to St. Thomas with my family back in March, and it was so wonderful! It was true relaxation to just lay on a beach all day. The sunsets were gorgeous, and I got to ride a horse in the surf. Bliss!

St. Thomas US Virgin Islands Sunset | Trés Belle

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands | Trés Belle

Horseback riding on the beach in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands | Trés Belle

4. Best Bite: Every single flavor of gluten-free cupcakes at Carytown Cupcakes in Richmond, VA. Y’all, I fantasize about going back to try more of these cupcakes! You truly cannot tell that they are gluten-free, and they have the perfect crumb. I also like that they have inventive, unusual flavors (obviously not pictured).

Gluten-Free Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes from Carytown Cupcakes in Richmond, Virginia | Trés Belle

5. Favorite Photo: This picture of me and Wes at a Panthers game back in August. I had a wish taking place that day!

Carolina Panthers Spirit | Trés Belle

6. Inspiring Read: Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. I’ve actually already talked about it here on the blog.

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton Book Review | Trés Belle

7. Most Valuable Lesson: That I can only give out as much as I’m taking in. I always tend to overcommit myself and run, run, run without stopping for self-care. I used to be able to do this with minimal consequences, but due to the aforementioned health issues, I have to be more careful these days. I’m also an introvert, which makes it all the more important for me to have time to recharge alone at home. Thanks to the reflection process built into my PowerSheets (a goal setting workbook), I have learned that I need equal amounts of time of pouring into myself and giving to others. My eight hours of sleep each night cancels out my eight hours in the office each day, so it’s really how I spend my waking hours outside of work that are critical. If I’m out volunteering or participating in social events every night of the week, I’m going to feel tired, weary, and anxious. I need equal amounts of rest and doing.

PowerSheets Goal Setting Workbook by Lara Casey/The Cultivate Shop | Trés Belle

8. Favorite Gift Received: Wes surprised me by giving me a nice camera for Christmas! I am so, so excited to learn how to use it.

9. Scariest Moment: I don’t even know how to describe this in just a few sentences, but I’ll try. On a trip to Stratford Hall back in the spring, Wes and I went on a hike straight into a tick-infested forest. We didn’t realize it until we were already halfway into the hike and had dozens and dozens of ticks crawling all over us. It took us about 30 minutes of sprinting then stopping to knock off ticks to finally get out of the forest. I have a huge spider/tick phobia, and I felt like I was having a panic attack. It took us two hours to go through all of our clothes, comb through our hair, and shower afterward. Horrible! We kept imagining that we felt ticks crawling on us for weeks!

10. Favorite Raleigh Spot: I really can’t pick a true number one favorite because I have soooo many. As far as food goes, it may have to be Guasaca South American Grill based solely on number of times visited. Guasaca is a short order arepa restaurant that is amazingly delicious, especially for the price point! Another top favorite Raleigh spot is The Flourish Market, of course!

The Flourish Market ethical fashion store in Raleigh, NC | Trés Belle

11. Things I’m Most Looking Forward to in 2017: Taking a trip to Italy (Wes’s first time out of the country!), taking photos with my new camera, getting some projects done around the house, and granting wishes!

Wasn’t that fun? I’d love to hear some of y’all’s superlatives from 2016 in the comments. And, if there are any other superlatives you think I should add for 2017, let me know!

xoxo, Laura

Food Favorites: January 2016

One word: s’mores. Nothing beats them. We had such a fun time roasting marshmallows over our fire pit while my family was visiting earlier this month. I think these gluten-free graham crackers taste better than regular graham crackers!

S'mores Over the Fire Pit | Trés Belle

Taza’s Pan de Jengibre chocolate bar. Holy moly. I bought some on sale at Thrive Market after Christmas and am so in love, I wish I had bought more. Don’t care one bit that it is after Christmas and gingerbread is “out.” This stuff is pure T amazing.

1915 cold-pressed organic juice. I posted a couple of months ago about the Suja juices we’ve been loving. The 1915 juices are pretty similar, though the flavors vary somewhat. We rotate between the 1915 juices and the Suja juices just depending on which brand is on sale. Paying full price for these juices gets expensive! We love the extra dose of organic fruits and veggies, though.

Lots and lots of guac. We have always been guacamole lovers, but Wes has really been killing it in the guac department ever since I got him this nifty avocado tool for Christmas. I wish I could say that we have a homemade recipe, but since we are often pushed for time (especially right now while I’m studying for my licensure exam), we usually use this mix.

Five-Spice Sangria | Trés Belle

For local readers in the Raleigh area: This month was fabulous for my taste buds on account of Five-Spice Sangria at Trophy Brewing, Pumpkin Gingerbread Spoon Cake at Irregardless Cafe, Dirty Shirleys with Covington vodka (local and gluten-free!) at buku, and Succotash Farro Risotto/Chocolate Ganache Tart with Salted Caramel/Moscow Mules at Fiction Kitchen. Now you have dinner and/or drinking plans for next weekend. You’re welcome!

That’s all for this month, y’all…not much cooking going on around here with me studying my tail off for this exam. February 19th needs to come and go, stat!

xoxo Laura

Gluten-Free Hello Dollies

Yesterday was my first gluten-free Christmas, and my sweet mama made it special for me by adapting my favorite Christmas cookie recipe. Isn’t she the best?? So here’s my Christmas present to y’all: the recipe! Even if you don’t need to be gluten-free, you will ADORE these Hello Dollies. Warning: non-professional iPhone photos ahead.

Gluten-Free Hello Dollies |  Trés Belle

This recipe has been in the family for multiple generations. Others make similar variations called seven layer bars, but I think “Hello Dollies” is much more festive, don’t you? When I think of Christmas, I taste the buttery, chocolatey, butterscoth-y flavor of these Dollies melting in my mouth. So. Darn. Good.

Gluten-Free Hello Dollies

Gluten-Free Hello Dollies

Ingredients:

1/2 stick butter
1 cup gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
1 cup shredded coconut
6 oz chocolate chips (make sure they are gluten-free…some chocolate chips contain barley malt)
6 oz butterscotch chips (make sure they are gluten-free…some chips have “artificial flavoring” that is not GF)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups pecans, finely chopped

Spray an 8×8″ or 9×9″ pan with nonstick cooking spray. Melt the butter in the pan. Sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the butter, then the coconut over the graham cracker crumbs, then the chocolate chips, then the butterscotch chips. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top, then sprinkle on the pecans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Cover with foil and bake another 5-1o minutes.

Let cool completely, then cut into small squares and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Hello Dollies

Merry Christmas, belles!

xoxo Laura